THE HAWKER’S JOURNEY – FROM HUMBLE TO BEYOND
By Cecilia Joven Ong - Friday, Feb 12, 2016
Being a hawker is like undertaking the journey on the road less travelled. Some might not even make it to the end of that road, but for those with conviction and perseverance, the reward is at the end – be it a new restaurant or cafe or plain contention, it makes the journey worthwhile. Why some hawkers are able to grow their business successfully and what are the secrets of their success? It might be a strong passion in cooking; an extreme interest in wanting to serve comfort food at affordable prices, just to see happy faces, or it might just be an absolutely outstanding service that leaves an impression.
As a matter of fact, when venturing into a hawker business, it is not just a decision but it has to be done with determination and a certain mindset to keep it surviving.
CLOSED- THE RUSTIC BISTRO
21 China Street Far East Square Singapore 049563
Opening Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Closed on Sundays)
Chef Eddy Wan helms The Rustic Bistro; he has more than ten years of culinary experience acquired in various hotels and chain restaurants. He first started his hawker stall at China Square, which he then expanded to a bistro serving wallet-friendly modern inspired western cuisine. The ambience has a homely vibe coupled with attentive service that is welcoming.
His menu includes an extensive selection at nett prices. Some of their unpretentious yet innovative dishes are Braised Beef Cheek, Chicken Confit, 63 Degrees Egg and also unique western dishes like Curry Chicken Burger, Soft Shell Crab Curry Burger, Laksa Spaghetti and Tomyum Prawn Spaghetti. He strives to keep the standard of his dishes on par with its more expensive counterparts but at much lower prices.
DAISY’S DREAM KITCHEN
Block 517 West Coast Road #01-571 Singapore 120517
Updated on 26 August 2018: Relocated to 131 Rifle Range Rd #01-01, Temasek Club
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 3.00 pm / 6.00 pm to 10.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)
Daisy started from a hawker stall at Tiong Bahru Food Centre in 2011 and has grown to become a Peranakan restaurant. It is her passion in cooking and heartwarming service that has garnered the support of many new and returning customers.
Babi Buah Keluak is one of her signature dishes; the gravy is robust with a slight earthy tanginess to it. Another popular dish is her flavourful and addictive Beef Rendang, and not forgetting her Bakwan Kepiting, which is a homely and a rather labourious Peranakan dish that is not commonly available. Her Nonya Chap Chye is one of the best, nicely done and simply comforting. She also serves good value set lunches during the weekdays. Getting on in her years, Daisy is slowly handing over the cooking and restaurant to Ray, her youngest son.
OLD BIBIK’S PERANAKAN KITCHEN
190 Changi Road #01-01 MDIS Building Singapore 419974
Updated on 26 August 2018: Relocated to 328 Joo Chiat Rd #01-02
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 10.00 pm (Daily)
Adrian Loh and Wee Phang Lui started a hawker stall at the already demolished Lavender Food Square serving Peranakan cuisine using a recipe that is passed down by Adrian’s grandmother in 2011. They expanded to a restaurant in 2014, a Halal certified establishment that is offering authentic Peranakan dishes at reasonable prices.
Their menu includes their famous chicken, beef and mutton rendang and also other Nonya specialities like Ayam Buah Keluak, Udang Nenas, Rempah Ayam Goreng, Udang Goreng and Tengiri Fish. All these dishes are freshly cooked using their unique blend of special sauces with a myriad of spices and herbs that offers interesting textures and flavors. Their traditional Babi Pongteh and Babi Buah Keluak are replaced with chicken or fish to cater to Muslim customers. They serve their dishes with no added MSG, artificial flavoring or preservatives to keep it healthy for their customers.
MINISTRY OF RIBS
Block 416 Pandan Garden #01-125 Singapore 600416
Block 727 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 #01-4236 Singapore 560727
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)
Kleiser Lee started a hawker stall in a coffee shop at Dover Crescent before gradually expanding to a cafe in Pandan Garden. Their signature Ministry Burger is a good value gourmet burger at an unbeatable price of $14.90. It consists of a thick piece of juicy handmade beef patty served with a big chunk of fried battered onions together with two slices of bacon and cheese, and with a side dish of your choice. On his menu, you could also find tasty pork ribs and steaks that are equally of good value.
He has recently expanded to include a new outlet in Ang Mo Kio to continue serving affordable western fare.
10 Anson Road #01-20 International Plaza Singapore 079903
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm / 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm (Monday to Friday),
11.30 am to 2.30 pm (Saturday) (Closed on Sundays)
The brothers, Cai Weili and Cai Wisheng, started a hawker stall in a coffee shop at Tanjong Pagar Plaza in 2010 selling handmade cookies and Japanese ramen using a recipe that they downloaded from the internet. They moved to their current location in 2014. Their noodles are freshly made in house using an imported noodles maker to ensure proper quality control. They keep their menu simple with just five options starting from $12.90; ramen with pork chasu, bamboo shoots, Japanese fishcake and spring onions.
It all started with a deep love and strong passion for cooking that has led them this far. They have bigger plans for the future, hoping to bring Singapore’s noodle scene to a higher level and to create a bowl of ramen that they would proudly call the Singapore Ramen.